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POLITICS > Syrian troops, general defect to Turkey: official

ANKARA - Agence France-Presse

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A group of some 20 Syrian soldiers including a general defected from the army Tuesday and fled to Turkey, joining hundreds of other ex-troops from Syria's military, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

"The soldiers who fled to Turkey include a general, three colonels and several other officers," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Some 40 people, including defectors and family members, crossed the border into the southern Turkish province of Hatay. They were taken to the Apaydin refugee camp, which holds all Syria's defected soldiers, Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Since the start of the civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime and rebel forces, dozens of senior army officers including some 40 generals have defected and headed to Turkey.

Turkish authorities have refused to give the exact number of Syrian defectors, who typically join the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army.

Turkey is housing a total of some 150,000 Syrian refugees at camps near the border.

January/02/2013

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